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Olivia Joules and the Overactive Imagination by Helen Fielding

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I very much enjoyed this novel, largely because it’s in a genre so rarely found these days: “light mystery thriller adventure romance” is the best way I can classify it. Author Graeme Shimmin has
described it as
: “…a hybrid plot, primarily a Mission plot with mystery elements, but also owing a lot to the comedy-romance genre”.

Olivia Joules reminds me of a modern-day version of Agatha Christie’s books The Man in the Brown Suit, They Came to Baghdad and Destination Unknown: a female heroine, just a “regular” young woman, somehow becomes embroiled in a exciting quest to solve a mystery, that takes her to exotic locations.

In each case the heroines are spirited, resourceful and resilient, and don’t rely on men to save the day. But in each case they end up with satisfactory romance. Such books, with female protagonists, are scarce, and I wish there were more.

Olivia Joules comes from the Fielding/Jones world of British media, magazine journalism and celebrity. She pursues a suspicious but attractive man across the globe, increasingly discovering his links to terrorism, and ends up saving the day.

Olivia Joules did verge on the implausible at times. I also recall finding the scuba diving episode rather a drawn-out diversion. It’s possibly no more unrealistic than Christie’s novels, but perhaps because it’s a contemporary novel it’s more jarring, as there’s more of a sense of realism/familiarity for the modern-day reader which can then get broken.

Olivia Joules isn’t nearly as well known as the Bridget Jones series of novels, but for those who enjoy Fielding’s writing, it’s definitely worth a read.